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 Freshwater puffers
 Brackish water puffers
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Characteristics of Sphoeroides spengleri

Sphoeroides spengleri

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scientific name

Sphoeroides spengleri

German Name

Geperlter Kugelfisch

English Name

Bandtail puffer

First characterisation

1785 von Bloch


Fish size

~ 18 cm (15 cm)






9 (8)

11 bis 14 große runde schwarze Punkte die am Kopf und entlang der unteren Hälfte des Körpers verlaufen, die ihn unverwechselbar machen. Die obere Häflte ist braungrün gefärbt, der Bauch ist hell.

„A somewhat blunt-headed fish with heavy jaws forming a beak of 2 teeth in both upper
and lower jaws. Dorsal and anal fins set back near caudal fin; dorsal fin usually with 8 soft rays (no spines), anal fin with 7 soft rays (no spines); pectoral fins usually with 13 rays; pelvic fins absent. Prickles covering a small area of upper side and belly. Lappets present on lower part of back and on sides. Colour: upper side brown or grey with some large black spots, belly white; lower sides bordered with a very even row of 11 to 14 sharply defined round dark spots; lappets flesh-coloured; caudal fin with a black or very dark bar at its base and another at its posterior margin. Size: Maximum to about 150 mm; common to 120 mm.“ (Shipp 2002, S. 2003)


„Sphoeroides spengleri has a regular series of round dark spots on lower flank and two dark bands on caudal fin. Snout is long and acute. Nostril is paired, and nares are located at ends of short tubes. Interorbital space is narrow and moderately concave. Gill slit is arch shaped and slightly shorter than pectoral fin base. Gill rakers are very short and number 8 to 10. Measurements are eypressed as percent of SL: head length 33%-39%, snout length 17%-22%, eye diameter 5%-9%, interorbital width 4%-6%, pectoral fin legnth 10%-14%, uniflated body depth 19%-22%. Pectoral fin has 13 or 14 (usually 14) rays. Dorsal fin has 7 or 8 (usually 8) rays. Anal fin is similar in shape to dorsal fin and has 6 to 8 rays. Spinules occur ventrally anterior to anus, are present or absent dorsally from nape to dorsal fin base, and if present laterally, are limited to cheek. Color is dark brown dorsally, light tan laterally, and white ventrally, with a row of large, round dark brown spots along lower side from chin to caudal fin base. Numerous small light brown lappets are present on posterior section of body.“ (McEachran (u.a.) 2005, S. 928)





Brackish - Sea water


23 °C - 26 °C



Additional fishfood information

"Food consists of algae, sea grass, mollusks, polychaetes, sea urchins, brittle stars, and crabs and other crustaceans.“ (McEachran (u.a.) 2005, S. 928)

"Preys mostly on attached or benthic invertebrates." (Shipp 2002, S. 2003)


Diese Art lebt in der Natur in flachem Wasser im Seegraß oder in Riffen und ernährt sich von Algen, Seegraß, Mollusken, Crustaceen und anderen Wirbellosen:

„A loner, nowhere abundant, most frequent in about 10 to 40 m depth around
reef areas and submerged aquatic vegetation." (Shipp 2002, S. 2003)

"This species occurs in shallow water (...) It is associated with sea-grass beds and reef flats.“ (McEachran (u.a.) 2005, S. 928)

Basin size

176 imp.gal.


Diese Art ist bewiesenermaßen giftig. Bei dem aus mehreren Tieren extrahierten Gift handelt es sich um Saxitoxin, was der Theorie widerspricht, dass dieses lediglich in Süßwasserkugelfischarten gefunden wird, während Meerwasserkugelfische das Gift Tetrodotoxin haben sollen. Diese Kugelfischart jedenfalls nimmt das Gift über eine Dinoflagellatenart auf:


„From January 2002 to May 2004, 28 puffer fish poisoning (PFP) cases in Florida, New Jersey, Virginia, and New York were linked to the Indian River Lagoon (IRL) in Florida. Saxitoxins (STXs) of unknown source were first identified in fillet remnants from a New Jersey PFP case in 2002. (...) We found STXs in 516 IRL southern (Sphoeroides nephelus), checkered (Sphoeroides testudineus), and bandtail (Sphoeroides spengleri) puffer fish. During 36 months of monitoring, we detected STXs in skin, muscle, and viscera, with concentrations up to 22,104 μg STX equivalents (eq)/100 g tissue (action level, 80 μg STX eq/100 g tissue) in ovaries. Puffer fish tissues, clonal cultures, and natural bloom samples of P. bahamense from the IRL tested toxic in the MBA, RBA, MNCA, Ridascreen ELISA, and MIST Alert assay and positive for STX, dc-STX, and B1 toxin by HPLC and LC-MS. Skin mucus of IRL southern puffer fish captive for 1-year was highly toxic compared to Florida Gulf coast puffer fish. Therefore, we confirm puffer fish to be a hazardous reservoir of STXs in Florida’s marine waters and implicate the dinoflagellate P. bahamense as the putative toxin source. (...) Associated with fatal paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) in the Pacific but not known to be toxic in the western Atlantic, P. bahamense is an emerging public health threat. We propose characterizing this food poisoning syndrome as saxitoxin puffer fish poisoning (SPFP) to distinguish it from PFP, which is traditionally associated with tetrodotoxin, and from PSP caused by STXs in shellfish. (...) for example, one woman died 45 min after consuming toxic liver from a checkered puffer fish (Sphoeroides testudineus) (...)“ (Landsberg u.a. 2006, S. 1502)

"Remarks: Of all the pufferfishes in the area, this is the species most frequently implicated in toxic reactions. The produced toxin, tetrodotoxin, is extremely potent, and can frequently result in death if ingested.“ (Shipp 2002, S. 2003)


Last updated:

03-11-2007 20:40


20-04-2007 11:27


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